2020 was simultaneously a year that no one wants to remember and one that will never be forgotten. It was a year that impacted every part of not just the court reporting business, but every business.
When Phipps Reporting President and CEO Christine Phipps was elected President of the NCRA last August, the pandemic was dominating everything from news cycles to grocery shopping routines to how companies kept work going. It was NOT business as usual, but Christine was determined to stay true to her guiding principles of equality, fairness, ethics, and transparency.
Her priority was to continue to share with the legal community, the business world, and the public just how essential the work of court reporting is. That the preservation of the official record, and the importance of the role of certified stenographers, could not be minimized.
On July 29, Christine officially turned over the gavel to incoming President, Debbie Dibble. It was the end of her presidency, but also an opportunity to look forward at how to best support a new generation of court reporters and look back on the highlights of her tenure.
Wellness and Self Care
Christine has always been a staunch advocate of mental and physical health. As NCRA President, she understood that the pandemic made the issue even more urgent. She used the visibility of her role to encourage all NCRA members and the legal community at large to embrace the importance of mental health in the workplace. She made the workplace a safe space for open and honest conversations.
Under her leadership, the NCRA designated the week of October 5 as Mental Health Awareness Week, a tradition that will continue past her presidency and ensure that mental health remains a priority. The inaugural week kicked off with a series of 6 webinars, funded by the National Court Reporters Foundation. These webinars are available at no charge to all members and are accessible on the NCRA website.
Diversity and Inclusion
As a female founder, Christine has had extensive first-hand experience confronting inclusion in the workplace. In her role as president, she seized the opportunity to formalize the NCRA’s commitment to a more equitable future for all court reporters.
Her NCRA team brought together stakeholder groups that represented actual market segments and sought their input on how to best address diversity and inclusion. Space was created to have candid conversations and listening sessions, and for the first time steps are being taken to ensure a more inclusive tomorrow.
Technology and Remote
Phipps Reporting has been utilizing remote technology for more than 10 years. Armed with this critical knowledge, Christine was adamant about sharing that experience and putting a system into place that enabled court reporters to stay current with emerging technology. She directed her Phipps staff to create an in-house certification to assess their level of expertise with remote technology.
This newly created Remote Certification program has been shared with the NCRA via their Learning Center. NCRA members now have a new and valuable tool that allows them to demonstrate yet another level of proficiency of an important skill.
NCRA STRONG Task Force
Knowing that there are some misconceptions about digital recorder operators and automated speech recognition, setting the record straight on both was a priority. The NCRA STRONG Task Force came together under the leadership of Past NCRA President Sue Terry, and Christine continued and strengthened that important work.
The STRONG team has been unwavering in their commitment to educating the legal professionals and consumers who utilize court reporting and litigation support services. Their work protects clients, helping them make informed decisions and be aware of the risk of cyber-hacks and the exposure of confidential information when ASR is utilized. Not everyone understands or recognizes these all-too-common pitfalls of audio technology, or the dangers when, absent informed consent, their work is delegated to electronic recording operators or automatic speech recognition instead of stenographers.
As a new generation of leadership takes the reigns at the NCRA, Christine continues her focus on and commitment to a new generation of stenographers. There will always be a need for more court reporters but there is an equally great need for effective utilization of resources. Christine identified that need early in her presidency and worked to create a system that matches available court reporters to work in real time.
The new NCRA PROLink delivers on that need. What was once a Yellow-pages-style printed directory and a basic online directory is now a future-forward, easy-to-use-and-visualize mapping system that provides a means for member-clients to search for NCRA members. Like any good searching tool, it allows clients to search based on specific criteria and has the built-in benefit of promoting certification as well. The technology is still new, but ultimately it will allow for job blasts in specific areas – even at the last minute – using maps that pinpoint a specific geographic location.
The term is over, but the commitment and dedication remain. Congratulations, Christine, on an epic year.